ROME, JULY 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The ecclesial movements in the Church are in the vanguard of the new evangelization desired by John Paul II, an American cardinal says.
Such movements, moreover, can give hope to priests who at times are hard-pressed by difficulties, added Cardinal James F. Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
He was one of a number of cardinals who spoke at the “Ecclesial Movements for the New Evangelization” congress, organized by the Focolare Movement.
Father Silvano Cola, director of the Focolare Movement of Priests and an organizer of the event held June 26-28 at Castel Gandolfo, spoke with ZENIT about the event and some of its speakers.
Thousands of priests, seminarians and non-Catholic ministers — including Orthodox, Anglican and evangelical Lutherans from 44 countries — joined in the congress.
The event´s purpose was to study in-depth the Church´s role in the new millennium. One facet, Father Cola said, was “to respond to the needs of priests in the pastoral field.”
“[It] is obvious that we are faced with quite an acute crisis,” the priest said, “because, as an institution, the Church is unable to reach certain sectors, at least in the secular world.”
He noted that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once pointed out that, “following Vatican Council II, instead of an explosion of life, there was a frost — until the moment the Holy Spirit breathed again and created the charisms known as the new movements.”
According to Father Cola, Cardinal Stafford said the laity are emerging as a real source of evangelization, whereas in the past the focus was on the role of dioceses and parish priests.
Father Cola spoke of the case of a Salesian priest who, at the meeting of Italian major superiors in Collevalenza, related how, “for the past 17 years, we have encouraged a branch of consecrated life. [But] we produced burnt-out sparks; nothing was born.”
“We were looking for wood for our hearth, each one on his own, but the wood was green and did not catch fire,” the Salesian was quoted as saying. “And we were unaware of the fire the Holy Spirit has lit with the movements.”
Another speaker at the congress, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, stressed that personal holiness is needed first, then evangelization.